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Nuclear compromise fuels hopes of deal

Progress in talks involving the number of Iranian centrifuges and the transfer of low-enriched uranium to Russia are adding to hopes that a compromise approach between Iranian and US negotiators will succeed in resolving the main obstacle to a comprehensive agreement on Tehran's nuclear program. - Gareth Porter (Oct 29, '14)

The rhetoric of discontent in Pakistan

The reality show that was the Pakistani protest sit-in outside parliament appears close to an ending, without achieving the objectives of the two protest leaders. Cleric Tahirul Qadri rolled out the magical mantra of revolution yet didn't succeed in fomenting mass unrest, while overused cricketing metaphors aside, nobody knew what Imran Khan actually meant, and the rhetoric lost the movement all credibility as a force to be reckoned with. - Qaisar Abbas (Oct 29, '14)

Fighting for survival in the Sinai
Following well-coordinated attacks that killed scores of security personnel in northeast Sinai on Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accused a mysterious "foreign hand" of orchestrating the strike. More likely culprits for the violence emanating from the lawless region are decades of financial neglect by Cairo, and Sisi's own use of Sinai's impoverished villages as a proving ground for his military.
- Ramzy Baroud (Oct 28, '14)

Thanks for Vietnam,
Iraq and Afghanistan

The American public regularly provides cheap praise and empty valorization for veterans of its wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. But this thank-you-for-your-service culture and the hallow patriotism of the rock concert hall is wont to leave ex-service personnel depressed and wondering what it was they were fighting for. - Rory Fanning (Oct 27, '14)

The loser in Brazil
is neoliberalism

Irate Brazilian taxpayers are desperate for decent roads, urban security, better public hospitals and schools and less red tape and bureaucracy. But a slim majority still decided to stick with President Dilma Rousseff and her Xi Jinping-style anti-corruption drive over a turbo-neoliberalist challenger promising a "capitalist shock" that would see macroecomic policy run like a Wall Street fantasy.
- Pepe Escobar (Oct 28, '14)

Melting glaciers add to woes at Kumtor
Kumtor mine, the largest open pit gold deposit in Central Asia, is located amid important glaciers that feed Kyrgyzstan and neighboring countries with water. The same glaciers are melting at a rate that is being linked to dumping of the mine's waste, adding to majority shareholder Centerra Gold's woes. - Ryskeldi Satke, Dinara Kutmanova and Franco Galdini (Oct 28, '14)

HK and the 'democracy' riddle
By its latest standards, the Occupy Hong Kong has achieved 1950s Mississippi levels of direct democracy. Indeed, it has come very far in a short time. Go Jim Crow! This is as classic case of the students desperately trying to please everybody but in the end pleasing nobody. Not hard to see why the referendum collapsed under its own weight. - Peter Lee (Oct 27, '14)

The Islamic State and Sunni autonomy
The Islamic State offensive in Iraq has been blunted, but forming an effective counteroffensive has proved elusive. Yet an orderly devolution of power to a Sunni Iraq would present less instability than a likely protracted war with the militants followed by a war of Sunni independence. - Brian M Downing (Oct 27, '14)

Uzbek president faults
Soviet system, keeps relics

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov is a strong critic of the former Soviet Union, but is reluctant to dispense parts of its system, rules that curb the ability of Uzbeks to live in the capital. Demands for change could prove a vote-winner in forthcoming elections, especially from young, talented and frustrated voters. - Fozil Mashrab (Oct 24, '14)

The importance of being exceptional
"National exceptionalism" has gained traction in the past few years, yet the concept is nothing new and has played a part from ancient Greece to Abraham Lincoln's America. The subject is seldom explored, nor are the fealty oaths that politicians swear to it challenged. Yet shine light on the history of exceptionalism and the dark underbelly of such unconditional love through the ages is revealed. - David Bromwich (Oct 24, '14)

The US and selective support for separatism
The Barack Obama administration strongly condemned the declaration of independence by Crimea, but so far as international justice is concerned, the separation closely resembles Kosova's break from Serbia in 2008, which Washington warmly welcomed. Although independence is a pillar of America's foundation, in modern times the US does not support moves that don't fit in with its policy of self-appointed indispensability. - Brian Cloughley (Oct 24, '14)

Ideological dilemma grips Hong Kong
The so-called umbrella revolution in Hong Kong has at its heart a greater mistrust over the implications of Beijing's invisible hand in the city's governance than the design of the 2017 elections. This mistrust reflects fundamental ideological differences between the Hong Kong people and the inflexible Chinese government over the relationship between citizens and their rulers. - Crystal Lin (Oct 24, '14)

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The Kobani riddle
The barbarians, in the form of Islamic State goons, are at the gates of Kobani, the bombed-out city in northern Syria which is also the epicenter of a non-violent experiment in local democracy. But don't expect the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan to save Kobani: the city is now an easy-to-lose pawn in a pitiless game because it embodies a people-power challenge to the hegemony of the nation-state. - Pepe Escobar (Oct 24, '14)

Lords rule Hong Kong's democracy dance

The students who met Hong Kong government officials this past week are the foot-soldiers in the city's umbrella revolution because the adults feel it's not time for them to mount the stage. Even if there there is still room for a scenario in which everyone gets to sing "kumbaya", the rich still call the shots - and across the pro-democracy panoply it is well-known that the struggle with Beijing will be won on the streets, not in the debating hall. - Peter Lee (Oct 24, '14)

Rouble decline hits home in Central Asia
The sharp decline in the value of Russia's currency is rippling across Central Asia, where economies are dependent on transfers from workers in Russia. As local currencies follow the rouble downward, import costs rise, reminding Central Asians how dependent they are on their former colonial master. - David Trilling (Oct 24, '14)

Whitlam and Australia's forgotten coup
Gough Whitlam, who died this week, enjoyed a brief tenure as Australia's prime minister, but his three years in office were close to being revolutionary in both domestic and foreign policies. So much so that the United States and former colonial master Britain forced him from office in a manner Latin American countries will all-too-easily recognize. Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence. (Oct 23, '14)

Climate negotiators 'sleepwalking' in Bonn
Nearly half-a-million people protested last month in New York, demanding international leaders act on climate issues. Yet negotiators at this week's meeting in Bonn preparing for crucial upcoming talks in Lima are showing little urgency and unchanged political posturing.
- Stephen Leahy (Oct 23, '14)

When socialism can 'work'
The re-election of Bolivian President Evo Morales comes on top of his apparent successful defiance of theory in his economic policies. In reality, that "success" reflects, importantly, his inclusion of the country's indigenous poor in the formal economy. - Martin Hutchinson (Oct 21, '14)

Blackwater contractors convicted

The conviction of a former Blackwater contractor of murder and three of his colleagues of voluntary manslaughter in the shootings of 14 civilians killed in Baghdad's Nisour Square seven years ago has been welcomed as an "affirmation" of US commitment to the rule of law "even in times of war". Yet the US government continues to award Blackwater's successors millions of dollars each year in contracts, "essentially rewarding war crimes". - Jim Lobe (Oct 23, '14)

The rising cult of China experts
Western "China experts" who see the Beijing leadership as corrupt and illegitimate are increasingly becoming a law unto themselves. Policing social media, punishing "apologists" and vilifying anyone who refuses to discuss China solely on Western terms, the evangelists present themselves as social justice warriors. However, China isn't their country - and the negativity is poisoning everything.
- Thorsten Pattberg (Oct 23, '14)

Climate negotiators 'sleepwalking' in Bonn
Nearly half-a-million people protested last month in New York, demanding international leaders act on climate issues. Yet negotiators at this week's meeting in Bonn preparing for crucial upcoming talks in Lima are showing little urgency and unchanged political posturing.
- Stephen Leahy (Oct 23, '14)

Rouhani's 'economic package' is empty

The belief of Iran's Hassan Rouhani administration that the establishment of better relations with the US would serve as a panacea to the country's economic woes has effectively linked any chance of financial revival with an uncertain negotiation process. Perceptions that an unrestrained integration into global capitalism and wholesale privatization will end the West's imperialist policy on Iran are equally naive.
- Ismael Hossein-Zadeh (Oct 21, '14)


Kazakhstan's green
future starts to dim

Kazakhstan helped to secure the right to host the next World Fair, in 2017, with a pledge to emphasize green-energy alternatives. Now President Nursultan Nazarbayev appears to have had a drastic change of view. - Paolo Sorbello

Silicon Valley is now a short
Old age and decrepitude is settling inexorably over Silicon Valley. Its denizens will fight it, chasing frontier-tech acquisitions and seeking, through financial engineering, the magic drug that will prolong their vitality. It won't work. - Martin Hutchinson

Bull turns dangerous
Air needs to come out of dangerously inflated global securities markets. Right now, however, the bull has taken a sword and he's turned crazy violent - he just wants to hurt people. (Oct 27, '14)
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

China hypes
connectivity, India balks

What makes Sri Lanka's practice of diplomacy by far the best in the region is its sophistication and subtlety. This comes out very clearly in Colombo’s reaction at the level of its naval chief Admiral Jayantha Perera to the reported Indian demarche regarding the visit of Chinese submarine and other naval ships to Sri Lanka in the most recent period. What do we make of it?
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re Ebola and Security Opportunities Lost"Oct 21, 2014] It is a crime against humanity to transport Ebola patients out of Ebola-infected nations to infect the entire Earth.
Daniel N Russell
Willow, Alaska
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. The rising cult of China experts

2. Whitlam and Australia's forgotten coup

3. What could possibly go wrong?

4. Rouhani's 'economic package' is empty

5. Blackwater contractors convicted

6. Do the Trans-Siberian shuffle

7. When socialism can 'work'

8. A Caliph in a wilderness of mirrors

9. Britain's phantoms of the past in Palestine

10. Iran's Baloch insurgency and the IS

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Oct 23, 2014)


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